By Farouk Martin’s Aresa… Here we go again! We have not recovered from the excesses of past politicians that decided to sell Government properties to themselves, now Buhari Government is sending out feelers on how we will react to another sale. It was during the Obasanjo Government that we were painfully exposed to OBJ- Atiku Show. We saw how Government money went to the banks and the banks “lend” the same money to politicians to buy asserts under the guise of privatization.
It is either each of these governments that preached fiscal responsibility during elections thinks people will forget or they do not care if we do. We must wonder how this came about, who sold it to Buhari and how he swallowed it. Some of us may remember the parents of our friends that owed properties in the cities. Many of them sold so many properties; some sold the houses they lived in. If their former tenants that bought did not kick them out, they became tenants.
In the case of a country, a few privileged cronies of the politicians buy our communal properties and turned around to sell to foreigners with expertize it if they could not manage it. The case in point was the enmity between good friends: Obasanjo and Danjuma. Danjuma was allocated so many properties he could not manage; he wanted to sell oil blocks to foreigners. OBJ blocked him and they became enemies.
The United States Justice Department, has decided to fine Och-Ziff, a $39 billion hedge fund over whether it paid bribes to officials in Africa including Zimbabwe, Libya and Congo. They are the buyers of African assets from our politicians. It is usually the oil and mining companies that are involved in these bribery, but now hedge funds have gotten involved. It is just too lucrative to let go. Och-Ziff stands to pay a fine of around $400 million for bribery in Africa.
One would think Obasanjo would be the one against this new charade of privatization. Instead he cautioned them to proceed with diligence. Sure, who is fooling whom? The buyers of these communal properties have no expertize but do know the Who And Who in high places and use their connections to enrich themselves. Before we say it happens everywhere, we must admit that the impunity and recklessness it encourages in African countries is repugnant.
People from the South-south are already crying that more Nigerians that do not come from the land of oil and polluted environment are the major owners of oil blocks. It was not that the same people did not do the same during their time in power. Most of Jonathan’s ministers claimed with impunity that it was their oil on their land and could do anything they want with it without anyone interfering from the rest of Nigeria!
In most cases, when stolen money or property is discovered, investigators would set up a trap hopping the rogue would show up. If police discovered drugs or funds from drugs, you do not expect a drug dealer to show up and claim them. In the case of Mrs. Jonathan, she had the guts to come out and claim embezzled funds from the Government claiming it belonged to her dead mother in heaven. Shoo Naija!
However, Dangote biko, wetin be your own? How much more does the richest man in Africa want by calling for the sale of our assets to beat recession? If we sell our assets during every recession, how much assets we would have left during depression? It sounds like some politicians are not thinking, selfish and ready to thrown their motherland under the bus just to get rich. There must be a limit to these daily insults on talikawa, little and working people.
Buyers of Government properties are lined up to scoop the spoils of our suffering and smiling. They have economists behind them that will give us classic textbook financial advise on the benefit of selling our common properties off to vultures. No matter how simple or complex a case, you can always find a lawyer on either side. So there is nothing odd about economists.
No one should be surprised if the question of whether to sell or not fall on the same persuasion as that of devaluation or floating of Naira. There is every reason to turn against those who turn us into hungry man, women and children by looting the treasury dry. People want meat in every pot, garri in every bowl and clean water to drink; not to stay on the line for the mercy of their politicians. These same politicians display their “generosity” with crumbs to the masses.
Since when have we become beggars in order to eat? We ask politicians to create enabling environment so that every family has enough money and can afford to buy food for every member of their household. Instead, they have turn food into a lottery for the starving poor and dwindling middle class. When it gets to a point when people step on and crush a few to death in order to get a bag of rice, garri or a tuber of yam, there is no reason to jubilate.
Look, there are men and women in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular that can solve problems in each country but greed and selfishness have obliterated their medulla oblongata once they came into irresistible community assets they could sell to foreigners and enslave their own people and future generation. Who is going to pay for Eko Atlantic Americans love or Kenya rail built by the Chinese? They have mortgaged our next generations to foreigners!
Their argument for selling is that nobody cares about government properties. Only individuals care about bottom-line in business. As the argument goes, even if government retains certain percentage, those appointed to represent government interest demand more than what can keep the companies afloat in bribes and gratuities. What we should have learnt in the previous devaluation saga is that Foreign Private Investors are only interested in short-term profit.
The Cooperative Board in the local governments worked very well in the past. It may need some modernization, tweaking and technical support from African expertize underutilized at home and abroad, to make it work again. These are the bodies that should be scrutinized and examined to their capability to manage each government property for sale. They will be easier to track and held responsible for failure, held accountable whether deliberate or inadvertent.
We must keep a good eye on how Buhari Government process the proposed sale of our common properties. His government was voted in because most people were tired of sleaze in the previous Government. It is up to him to prove us right or wrong.
Ripples Nigeria…without borders, without fears
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